Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How Do I Know I am Elect by A.W. Pink

How Do I Know I am Elect by A.W. Pink
I copied this list from a friend’s blog, I comment on it here. You will see that I have obvious problems with the theology espoused below. I tried to take this point by point on the comments section of his blog, but perhaps it was too long. So I’m going to do it here. Realize that this is reformed doctrine. This whole question is much easier answered by Lutherans saying “I am baptized.” That is we don’t doubt that God has saved us because he elected us in baptism, that is chose us for his own. The list is in quotations.
"How may I know I'm elect?”
What drives a person to even ask this question? It is doubt. The question betrays doubt, doubt that Christ actually died for you. This doubt becomes critical in reformed circles because they don’t believe Jesus really died for everyone in the world, but only the elect. The elect not being elected or called by the gospel, but being chosen way back when apart from any means such as the gospel or baptism which in reformed theology can at best awaken the election. These things cannot effect election. This is because they refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through these things, believing that this would compromise the “sovereignty of God.” God has to be able to work apart from means. No doubt he can. But he chooses to work through them according to scripture, Romans 10 for instance.

“First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced.”
So this is the first point on the list. How do I know I am elect? I’m no longer self-complacent or self-righteous, except for when I am. I mean really? Base your salvation on the fact that you are no longer self-complacent. You are doing your part, not like those complacent Christians down the street content to go to work and be good husbands, fathers, mothers and wives during the week and occasionally share the gospel with a friend when opportunity arises. No, you get up every morning and in a very non self-righteous way go knock on doors telling people about Christ and how they can be sure of their election when they get rid of their self-complacency and self-righteousness. Then we can all be self-righteous about how unself-righteous we all are...
Do you see why I don’t buy this one as anything that produces assurance?

“Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.”
A second dose of navel gazing, anyone? Are you that convicted? Sure the Holy Spirit does this, he will convict of us these things. But of course there are many people in this world who believe they are woeful, guilty and lost. Many people out there have come to those conclusions quite apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. So how do you know it was the Holy Spirit that has convicted you of this?

“Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.”
Almost the gospel, which is to say it is not the gospel. Of course if I believed that Christ died for me and that was enough I wouldn’t really be asking if I was elect in the first placed. Notice the wishy washy language here that goes along with the doctrine of election. Christ is suitable and sufficient to meet your desperate cause, but you have no assurance that he actually has. He is your only hope, that is for sure. But with this language there isn’t a whole lot of certainty in that hope. Because though he is suitable and sufficient, he really hasn’t done it for you unless you are elect. And the whole thing begs the question. Notice nothing here of Christ actually having done all for you and saving you with his death on the cross. No mention of the Cross as the propitiation of sins. No mention of that objective and perfect sacrifice where he died for the sins of the whole world. Just this bit about if he wants to he could save you, he is a sufficient and suitable savior for you if he chooses to be so, but whether or not he has is another thing all together. But in the meantime he is your only hope. Well that and your ability to shed self-complacency and self-righteousness. Good luck with that.

“Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ."
And another dose of navel gazing, let’s go look for the marks of the new nature WITHIN ME. I know I’m elect because I have the zeal and love for God of a Muslim terrorist. Let’s not forget that Saul before he was Paul, still loved God, or thought he did. Much better to know that God loves you.
But if that is not enough by itself, then you also have the appetite for spiritual things of a Wiccan priestess dancing nude in the forest. Spiritual things, these days that has a wide meaning. That appetite can have you consuming spiritual things all the way to hell. But even if it is an appetite for Christian spiritual things it becomes a bit tenuous, how much of an appetite do you have? It is great to spend time in devotions, prayer, and study of theology. I encourage my members to do this stuff all the time. But I’m not about to write the members of my congregation as being un-elect because they only come to church irregularly, and don’t exhibit much of an appetite for spiritual things.
A longing for holiness? Well who doesn’t have that? Seriously, who doesn’t have that? Hindu’s desire to be Holy. Zoroastrians desire to be holy. Of course if you are baptized you are holy, because there the Holy Spirit sanctified you with the washing of the water and the word (Ephesians 5:26) . There Christ set you apart as His, that is as holy. So you don’t have to desire it anymore, just realize that you actually are holy. (Warning life accordingly may follow.)
A seeking after conformity to Christ, well do you seek to conform to Christ? I’m not always sure what that means. Does it mean I should grow a beard and go homeless? Is it trying to mimic his personality like a drugstore cowboy doing a John Wayne impression? Don’t get me wrong, I believe a Christian is being conformed to Christ daily. I’m just not sure that this has to be an actively sought thing. We study his word and repent of our sins, that is fine. But trying to figure out exactly what Christ would do in any given situation and basing our “heilsgewissheit”, salvation assurance, on how well we do? Well I don’t think that is good advice at all. Some days I might think I do well on other days not so well. And truth be told I’m probably wrong on both accounts.

“Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.”
So I should know that I am elect, because despite the fact that Christ loves me, I loathe myself? I suppose there is a time for a bit of self loathing. But I wouldn’t do too much of it. Loathing sin is one thing. But I think there is a backhanded command to love yourself when we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we loathe ourselves we might just interpret this to mean we can loathe our neighbors too. This is just downright awful. Look at it. We are to know God loves us, based on the fact that we hate, sorry, loathe ourselves. Sorry, not buying into that one. I can hate my sin without going down that road

“Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.”
Check me into the psyche ward now. They say this isn’t a works righteousness? Now I base my assurance of salvation on two impossibilities, one that I avoid everything condemned in God’s word. I’m not even sure what all that is? I know the Ten Commandments, and a few other things. But that is just it even the Psalmist complains that one cannot know all his sins. Psalm 19:12 (ESV)
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

So how do I know I repent of all of them? How am I to “humbly confess every transgression? I think I heard of a man who tried that, oh yeah, Martin Luther. It didn’t go so well according to my biography. It led to something called the Reformation. That was good but it was a total renunciation of the above theology.

“Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."
Gibberish. I am not even sure what the above said. It does put the pressure on me though. I get that part. I’m to know I am elect when I give all diligence to cultivating Christian graces, all diligence mind you. This doesn’t just mean diligently working to cultivate Christian graces but giving all diligence to this. I’m not sure what is meant by Christian graces either. Maybe I don’t have any? I imagine this to mean those silly things that Christians do to try show they are Christians. You know: avoid bars, replace cussing with Ned Flanders Syndrome (I hate Ned Flanders Syndrome. Say it or don’t, but you just sound stupid saying fudge.) praying with a nonsensical use of the word just, as in Lord I just etc. But when other people can see you are a Christian by your graces, perhaps you have it? Not a chance.

There is a better way of knowing you are elect. That is you are elect because you are baptized into Christ. He made promises there, and he doesn’t break them. He forgave your sins there, and gave you the Holy Spirit, see Acts 2:38-39. He saved you. He died for you. You can be certain of that. God doesn’t do things half way.

This list was taken from:
- A .W. Pink, The Doctrines of Election and Justification [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], pp. 140-41.

64 comments:

Steve Martin said...

Pink uses the word "cumulative".

That implies progression.

That's not the Christian faith that I am a part of.

Christianity is old to new. Death to life. Unbelief to belief. Repentance and forgiveness.

Christian progression is ladder climbimg.

No thanks. Christ came all the way down for us. We don't need to ascend to Him. When we try...we make matters worse.

Steve Martin said...

Bror,

You did a really nice job of exposing each of the points on the list.

Thanks.

Larry said...

Nice post!

Oh yea, A.W. Pink. I’ve read a lot of AW Pink he was one of my Reformed preferences especially while I was still baptist. It’s interesting to note Pink’s history, he was once a practicing Gnostic (although one might argue he never fully left that). I combed through Pink just like I did the Puritans writings and Calvin for assurance (that’s what I did 24/7).

Steve picks up on that HUGE concept, “cumulative”. There it is. THAT is the Reformed version of the Roman Catholic concept of mortal venial (as opposed to Luther’s turning that against them in his HD). E.g. Aquinas said no person should come to the supper under mortal sin, Luther said that’s the ONLY reason to come to the supper. But that “cumulative”, that’s the protestant/Calvinist system of mortal/venial like the RC but not named that (there’s no formal mortal/venial lingo) and just readjusted a bit. Under Rome the question is “did I fall away from grace”? How can I find this out? Assess mortal versus venial sin. How? Certain types, quantities and qualities of sins (and works) define mortal (you fell away from the grace of God or deadly sin), or venial (a sin not so bad). Under Reformed or other protestant religion its functionally the same thing but named a bit different. The question is not “did I fall from grace” but “am I saved/elect/born again…etc…at all”. How can I find this out? Assess progression or “accumulation” (cumulative) of sins/works. Certain sins/works due to types, quantities and qualities mean “not elect”, other “elect”. This is how it is exactly Rome’s religion. The only difference is its less formal, Rome writes down and the priest helps tell you “mortal” or “venial”, in Calvinism its more of a self assessment (as you pick up here in Pink. Note all this guidance from him is for YOU to self assess. No absolution.) Grace in both these systems boil down to infused power to do X. As opposed to forgiveness of sin period, end of story (Luther).

Counter that with Christianity, and yes I’ll say it, true Christianity in what Luther said regarding Rome’s mortal/venial system. He turned it against them. Mortal means only those sins you consider to only be venial (be a real sinner not fake sinner Luther said to Phillip, “let your sins be strong”) thus you fall away from the grace of God (grace meaning forgiveness of sin). And you do so by “choice”, fake sins don’t really need real grace. And venial sins are those sins which you consider to be actually mortal (be a real sinner for real grace).

To turn Luther on Calvin here, which is really just the pope’s religion repackaged Luther might say, “the sins or works that prove you are not elect/born again/saved, per se, (deadly/mortal) are those you consider prove you are elect/born again/saved. And the sins or works that prove you are in fact elect/born again/saved (per se), i.e. a fake sinner, are those you consider to prove you are not elect/born again/saved (a real sinner).

This is why Luther’s HD is explicitly against Rome but implicitly against Calvin and PRECISELY why bondage of the will does not equal “total depravity”. The two are not “just a little off” but ENTIRELY different.

Larry

Wayne Dawg said...

Hello Bror!

First off, I want to thank you for your kindness and mannerism in responding to my original post.

This is one of those topics that divides Christians and can make tempers flare pretty quickly when debating or discussing.

I have found you and Steve, while firmly ensconced in your belief on this topic, to be very cordial and never demeaning to the opposite viewpoint.

Thanks!

I don't know what more to say that I have not already said on my blog.

When one is truly born-again there is never a ‘second guessing’ on our new nature. A new creature in Christ never gauges or wonders if he/she is doing ‘enough’ for the Kingdom of God through godly works; these things naturally flow out of the believer!

My assurance is not in my baptism, but on the finished work of the cross and what God did for me there!

These “works” that you think I rely on are simply the works of God via the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself.

I didn't elect myself and I can't produce anything good myself. I rely on what God did/does for me.

I do nothing.

You make some serious errors in your rebuttals to Pink's comments.

"You are doing your part, not like those complacent Christians down the street content to go to work and be good husbands, fathers, mothers and wives during the week and occasionally share the gospel with a friend when opportunity arises. No, you get up every morning and in a very non self-righteous way go knock on doors telling people about Christ and how they can be sure of their election when they get rid of their self-complacency and self-righteousness. Then we can all be self-righteous about how unself-righteous we all are..."

lol....no evangelical I know thinks or feels this way. This is basically a straw man statement you set up so you can knock it down.

"Because though he is suitable and sufficient, he really hasn’t done it for you unless you are elect. And the whole thing begs the question. Notice nothing here of Christ actually having done all for you and saving you with his death on the cross. No mention of the Cross as the propitiation of sins."

That wasn't the point of what Pink set out to say in his comments. If you like, I can post what Pink believes on the cross, propititation, etc.

"And another dose of navel gazing, let’s go look for the marks of the new nature WITHIN ME. I know I’m elect because I have the zeal and love for God of a Muslim terrorist."

You're comparing a zeal for holiness and seeking after conformity to Christ to the zeal of a muslim terrorist? Are you serious Bror?

"They say this isn’t a works righteousness? Now I base my assurance of salvation on two impossibilities, one that I avoid everything condemned in God’s word."

I'll admit that Pink's wording here should have said, "Sixth, by SEEKING TO AVOID everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression."

Seeking to avoid is a better wording than to just avoid.

I can set out to actively try to avoid sinful things. There are several proverbs that teach us this. One that comes to mind is avoiding the path that leads to the harlots house. It can look very inviting, but I must avoid the path.

Bror,we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone.

I rest assured in my salvation through my confessions that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; that God has revealed Himself in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation; that Jesus died and rose again for my sins.

God gets all the glory, not me.

Larry said...

We may in theory disagree who is right (truth) and who is wrong (false). But what we cannot disagree with ANY modicum of intelligence on is that two entirely different religions are being proclaimed here.

Ask yourself: Why did Luther see Rome, Anabaptist, Islam, Paganism and by extension Calvin’s religion as all the same theology of glory. Meaning, “not just eschew” but “another spirit” entirely and not just eschew thoughts on the same matter?

E.g. Synergism abounds: “God gets all the glory and not me”.

Arminianism confesses that.
Rome confesses that.
Islam confesses that.
Calvinism confesses that.
The Pharisee confessed that. (I thank you God…)

Grace for these common religions is a “power” to do. Forgiveness of sins is merely tacked on somewhere in the chain of events (even in Islam).

Arminianism confess that. God grants the power to choose (grace as the power to do) from creation.
Rome confesses that. God gives grace (grace as the power to do) via the sacraments.
Calvinism confesses that. God gives grace through some other immediate working of the spirit (grace as the power to do).

Three key elements to this fallen religion under various names:

1. Grace is in some form or another the power to do some form of righteousness (e.g. morals, improvements, Christian graces, etc…)
2. God gives this somewhere in the chain of events.
3. A tip of the hat confession is given to God in summary to “sell it” as “only from God”: “God gets all the glory and not me”

But the justified confess, “have mercy on me a sinner…” a REAL sinner in the ever present. Not an “improving sinner” (i.e. fake sinner). That’s Luther’s simul et peccator and it is in direct opposition to Rome, Calvin, et. Alli.

Thus the Pope, Pelagious, Erasmus, Calvin, would all say, “where there is salvation and life, there is forgiveness of sin”.

Luther on the other hand did say, in particular to the sacrament of the altar, “where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation.

Two ENTIRELY separate religions.

Steve Martin said...

Yep. This inward focus and this emphasis on progressing in the Christian life which is a hallmark of Baptist/Calvinistic religion, is just a return to Rome.

"Two wolves tied at the tail" is what Luther called the papists and the enthusiasts.

Larry said...

If you ever needing a reading list for life long Lutheran’s wondering what they are missing on the other side I can give you one that is sure to produce utter despair and send them fleeing back to Christ in the Sacraments and confessional Lutheranism.

I say that “tongue and cheek” because its really eternally dangerous and I would not recommend it.

Let them read through some of the Puritans who above all the Calvinist exhausted the “how do I know” question. Edwards utterly exhausts this, for example, in his book “Religious Affections”.

The one thing the Puritans, to a fault, were good at, exhausting an observation.

During Thomas Hookers time he saw the problem with this, as much as a Puritan could and wrote a decent book (the poor and doubting Christian drawn to Christ) which has an “almost gospel” in it. During this time Hooker recounts a real event in which a Puritan woman so distraught with assurance, or the lack thereof, tossed her baby down a well killing it. She then said, “now I know I’m going to hell”. Unknowing was worse than knowing one was going to hell. Hooker realized the shocking reality of this.

In fact Luther beat him to the reality once by saying its worse to teach uncertainty than a down right lie. Furthermore Luther observes rightly that if God wished us to not be certain He would not have sent His Son nor given us the sacraments.

Larry

Larry said...

"Two wolves tied at the tail" is what Luther called the papists and the enthusiasts.

Steve, that's a good one. That goes in the quote box!

Larry

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne Dawg,
I'm just going to ask you to read this list, that you posted to your blog. Read it for what it says, not what you think it says.
It doesn't qualify complacency or zeal. You say I have a straw man. No I'm tearing down a straw man, by reading into the statement everything it lets me read into it.
And I have known plenty an evangelical who feels that way.
Yes, before Paul was Paul, he was Saul and had a zeal for God comparable with that of a Muslim Terrorist. His zeal never changed but his religion did.
And please answer this, if you have no doubt, why are you asking the question in the first place?
By the way, if you are pointing to the works, you claimed them they are yours. Read Matthew 25. The sheep don't know they did anything. But if you can claim that it is really the Holy Spirit working in your pious efforts, why can't you see that Baptism is the Holy Spirit's work. That is one he doesn't let us claim in the Bible, He claims it despite our best efforts to make it our work. But this is the one you won't let him have. Why is that?

Bror Erickson said...

Larry,
nine posts, that comes as close as ever to inundated.

Larry said...

That’s a good point that donned on me a few years back, that is the resistance of the Reformed (Baptist or “R”eformed) to let the Holy Spirit actually be and work where He said He is and works. Yet, with great irony they see a “spirit” everywhere else. It’s much like the issue with the Lord’s Supper and the sacramentarians. They no where agree what it IS but the only “unity” if you will is in their affirmation of what it IS NOT. And to only agree to say what a thing IS NOT is in reality to say nothing at all on a subject. E.g. we all are looking at a rabbit. And all Steve says is, “it’s definitely not a rabbit”, and Bror says, “well I agree its not a rabbit”, and I say, “I must concur its not a rabbit”. We’ve basically said nothing and wasted a lot air.

Similarly they only agree in what baptism IS NOT, but no where agree what IS the Spirit. And this disagreement in what constitutes “the Spirit” varies not just between denominations but within denominations, within a given church building and person to person. E.g. Wayne’s “proof list” of why he just knows the spirit is working in him, would not have matched my wife’s, nor her family members individually. The “proof list” of the “works of the spirit” is always left in this nebulous Gnostic spiritual realm of generics. And that’s done on purpose because that way you cannot nail down “that thing that PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt…I’m elected/saved/reborn”. Because once you force that to be nailed down, then it reveals its works righteousness for what it is. E.g. “how do you know you are elect”. Well in some circles you get the “I once did (fill in the bad list things), but the Lord took that away from me (I quit)”. And so your salvation hinges on “I quite smoking, chewing, drinking, cussing, looking at Playboys…etc…”. Or in another set of circles it might be other things like, “I started doing evangelism, etc…” (remember its always different group to group person to person). But then it begins to sounds “works salvation” because in Reformed and particularly baptist circles one also affirms that “no one is saved by their works, going to church, being in the choir, for stop smoking, etc…”. Odd that assurance (which is another way of saying faith) is had in these things.

IF my assurance is based on “X, Y and Z” evidences (whatever they are) then I’m saying, “I have assurance of election (and thus salvation) because of X, Y and Z”. That’s Calvinism in all its flavors basis for assurance of election. But another way to state that is, “I have faith in X, Y and Z”. and now the cats out of the bag. If I have faith in X, Y and Z that’s not Christ, but works. It matters very little if I throw a tag line along with it, “God alone gets the glory not me” because that’s simply the Pharisee’s, “I thank God…”

Larry

Bror Erickson said...

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


I think this verse is often overused and way abused. But here it fits with what Larry is saying. Faith is the assurance, and where you find your assurance there is you faith.
When you look to feelings, works etc, (which may or may not be fruit of the gospel) then your faith is in feelings and works, not in Christ.
I say they may or may not be fruit of the gospel. That is because where the gospel is proclaimed these things will follow, though the feelings will be fickle and fleeting as they always are, and the works will most often be done when you are not looking.
The thing is though you can say these things are where the gospel is, you cannot say the gospel is where these things are. People have feelings apart from the Gospel, and many people do many things that look wonderful to the world and even Christians quite apart from the gospel.

Wayne Dawg said...

Tough crowd (he says while adjusting his tie).

Rome

Pharisee

Arminianin

Islam

Wow. You are throwing the big knives at me.

Actually, I do agree with this....

"We may in theory disagree who is right (truth) and who is wrong (false). But what we cannot disagree with ANY modicum of intelligence on is that two entirely different religions are being proclaimed here."

In fact, I couldn't agree more now.

All I have known my entire Christian life (16 years now) is, "God, forgive me, a sinner."

To be told I'm nothing more than a Pharisee cuts pretty deep.

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne Dawg,
Now come back to the table, brother.
And I do believe you are a brother, albeit a confused one.
You say all you have known your 16 years as a Christian is "God, forgive me, a sinner."
But you posted something very different a day ago on your blog. It is that post that we are taking issue with. Thing is I want you to analyze it, critically, objectively.
It is asking you to put your faith in what may or may not be fruit of the gospel. It is not asking you to put your faith in the Gospel, that Christ does forgive you, a sinner.
And please answer my question about why every other work you do is the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore worthy of giving you assurance, but you believe your baptism is not the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore not worthy of giving you assurance?

Wayne Dawg said...

Still at the table :)

“And please answer my question about why every other work you do is the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore worthy of giving you assurance, but you believe your baptism is not the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore not worthy of giving you assurance?”

My baptism, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, was out of obedience to the Lord.

“It is asking you to put your faith in what may or may not be fruit of the gospel.”

Let me ask you this, Bror, what is/are the evidences of conversion based on Scripture?

Larry said...

Wayne,

Part 1 of 2

This is analyzing the doctrine objectively not impugning you in particular. I always try to tell people, “pull yourself out of the doctrine you honestly confess as true and so believe…remove yourself emotionally from it”.

This is a standard response pretty much ubiquitous with Baptist and Reformed. I say that not impugning “wayne” because I understand it myself as an ex-baptist. It’s kind of part and parcel with the doctrinal paradigm. Truth be known we ALL would have to confess, if we are to confess ourselves rightly in the present tense REAL sinners to speak like the Pharisee and the tax collector (that’s the reality of the very real ever present simul saint/sinner).

It’s a paradigm problem inherent to a “once saved cannot fall away”, “the elect once elected cannot fall away” versus a reality of a ever present real sinner.

E.g. A baptist visits a Lutheran church, is not allowed to commune. The standard response? “Oh so you don’t think I’m a Christian”. No just confused. However, the converse is true. Its ironic you don’t typically get that response from Lutheran in the “vice versa” situation. I.e. you say to a Lutheran “you trust in baptism” with the implication that that is wrong you don’t often, if at all, hear the Lutheran respond in kind to the baptist, “Oh so you don’t think I’m a Christian”.

Why is that so? It goes back to the religious paradigm one is operating from and actually reveals that doctrine, whatever doctrine that is (true or false). Why the baptist would react “so you don’t think I’m a Christian” and the Lutheran under the same reverse situation does not react that way and does not think you think that of them? It goes back to the very HEART of this discussion. The Reformed and baptistic paradigms invest, ultimately, 100% of their assurance in their inward conversion life and the proofs thereof. That’s the root of “I’m an elect Christian” determination. So that when it is pointed out, for example, “that’s how every other religion and the Pharisee reacts”, the implication, under THAT religious paradigm that invests ultimate security, assurance and faith in said “secondary proofs” assesses it still under its own paradigm and projects that the Lutheran is assessing THEM the same way the really assess themselves and others (via the fruit policing in its most crass form). And thus the response to “your fruit proves nothing” is “oh so you mean I’m not a Christian”.

However, the Lutheran assesses the Christian based on his/her objective baptism. It’s really very simple, “Are you baptized?” “yes”, then you are a Christian and a Christian, me or you, are REAL sinners and not pretend sinners.

Larry said...

Part 2 of 2

We run into this all the time with my wife’s family (all baptist of various flavors) and death/near death events with some of them. They have typical stories about being converted and then baptized and then turned away from the church (baptist churches of many names, seventh day Adventist, etc…) for whatever reason (my family is the same, no Lutheran lineage in either of us). When an aged family member has neared death or died her family that are deep in the ministry always go into this fruit assessing mode of “were they really saved” (the arminian baptist side of the house) or “were they elect” (the calvin bapist side of the house, we have both). We always try to comfort them, especially if the person has died, “They were baptized by Christ Himself and there alone we/I hang my hope”. What else is there!

Which brings out a point about infant baptism that is similar in how it shows the PURE unconditional nature of the Gospel. In our day and age with the heresies of Calvin, et alli. so entrenched and so many centuries between then and now there are tons of people who have come and gone, laymen, in these false churches. My entire family lineage is tied to baptist and Methodist. Most got into it to genuinely seek the grace of Christ for them but burned out on the “can’t keep up with the spiritual Jones’s” and no real good news really at length being preached. And by good news we mean something more than just “information given” but forgiveness ACTUALLY and TRULLY given by God (something nowhere to be found in baptist or Calvinistic churches, no absolution for example). What’s my comfort for that because I have not seen a mass conversion over to Lutheranism on either side of our family and many were so burnt on the false doctrines of the baptist churches they hardly hear of “try Lutheran” because they’ve heard “try X” before? I don’t foresee, but could be happily wrong, a mass move over to Lutheran on either side of our families, its very lonely in that aspect of it. What of those that die in such ill repair? Do I lament myself to death and despair because “I couldn’t see the fruits” like a baptist or Calvinist, or do I hope in their baptisms NONETHELESS and IN SPITE OF THEM, just like infants.

The suffering of death has a way of cleaning up false doctrine, because all the hypothetical jibber jabber about improvement of life and improving on so called Christian graces is brought to the utter and absolute nothing that it is. At the point of final death and suffering only the real Gospel actually given will do, only baptism will do, only the real body and blood of Christ will do – as Luther says he who dies with this dies with a good and comforting confession!

I hope that is helpful,

Larry

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne,
Romans 10:9-11 (ESV)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."

1 Cor. 12:3 (ESV)
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.
But then I really Like this one:
Mark 16:16 (ESV)
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

So faith, confession, baptism, are evidences of conversion. I look no where else but to where faith bids me look for assurance that Jesus died for me, that he is the Christ, that he forgave my sins in baptism.
I don't need to prove to myself or anyone else that I am converted. I know Jesus died for my sins, and rose for my justification. I know he did for you too, despite what you do, or don't do. Even if you do forget to put the trash out Wednesday morning, or mow your lawn on Saturday.

Larry said...

Peter likens baptism to the baptism of Noah’s ark and the flood. This is very instructive because Peter says, “this baptism saves you”. This is instructive because we can easily imagine how the theologians of glory of that day and age must have laughed and scoffed at Noah’s doctrine and ark building (he was a preacher Scripture says). How silly and folly this foolishness of God must have looked to them. How Noah must have much suffered their scoffing persecution having only the Word of God to trust that “this ark (a baptism) will save you”. While men must have said, “Noah, look here at this dry ground flood waters can’t rise this high, how about those mountains in the distance. No dear Noah God will not save you in that ridiculous ark.” This is not unlike the sacraments and how baptist theologians scoff at and ridicule this baptism that Peter says, “this baptism will save you”, “repent and BE baptized FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS…the promise is TO YOU and YOUR children…”. They say, “Look Luther how can water do such great things…is this not shear folly to trust in your baptism”. As they did in Noah’s day so they do today regarding God’s promise and sacraments, scoff and laugh, which Paul calls persecution.

For in baptism is given the very name of God and where His name is, in particular Jesus (he will save his people from their sins or Yaweh saves) there is in reality forgiveness of sins. To not believe in baptism is to take the name of God in vain which makes it a baptism. The act itself of baptizing in and of itself is nothing, it is all in the Word and name of God which is added to the water.

So what if someone rejects it, we the ENTIRE world including me and you rejected the cross yet Christ died in this very same cross to save the world. The Word of God does not lie nor is unfaithful even if men are unfaithful and unbelieving of that very forgiveness. As Luther points out many will find, though they rejected it, He really did already and actually and truly forgive their sins in absolutions, baptism and the LS. They did not reject a hypothetical forgiveness awaiting their faith but a very real forgiveness in spite of their unbelief…just like Christ was rejected at the Cross. Baptism, absolution and the Lord’s Supper are just like Christ at the cross, a reality and truth that finds its self much rejected…thus the sacraments are no different than the Cross itself in this regard and just as rejectable. As Luther said if the king gives you land and yet you don’t believe it, it’s not the king’s fault he really gave you the land.

Larry

Larry said...

Wayne says something that I think is helpful to the discussion. He speaks honestly about the doctrine of baptism he presently holds. By that we have clear “lines in the sand” in which to analyze as opposed to those who like to say, “we are saying the same thing just different ways”.

If we go into the “neutral zone” of analysis like Paul kind of did when he said ‘if Christ is not risen we are the most foolish of men’ (paraphrased). Paul allowed for the hypothetical to analyze and pick apart the situation. He allowed for the “IF” this is not true, then we are indeed the biggest fools of all time. This was hypothetical paradigm #1 I once heard a famous atheist be honest like this from ‘his side’ of the argument for basically no god at all. He was asked, “OK but IF Jesus Christ DID rise from the dead, IF that was true what then?” The atheist was at least honest and paused in a stunning turn about said, “Well that changes everything.” This was antithesis (to #1 and vice versa) hypothetical paradigm #2.

Let’s go down that road for a minute.

Hypothetical paradigm #1, we (both parties) pause and suppose for a minute THIS is true:

IF baptism is exactly as Wayne says it, we agree and say, “yes that is baptism” and to quote directly, “My baptism, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, was out of obedience to the Lord” - IF THAT is what baptism really and truly IS, its sine quo non (or in the negative without which it is not), THEN I (we) would agree with Wayne. To wit IF that is baptism THEN I should never not one iota trust in baptism. This is like the “if Christ is not risen we are the most foolish of all men” hypothetical paradigm. Indeed IF THAT is baptism, THEN Lutheran theology is the most foolish theology of all.

Hypothetical paradigm #2, now we (again both parties) pause and suppose for a minute THIS is true:

If Jesus Christ came up to me, Bror, Steve, or Wayne and said to us in particular (directly speaking to ME, “I forgive you”. Should I, nay, must I believe Him? The answer we’d all give would be yes otherwise you are saying Christ is lying to me. Right? Of course it is right. Now “that is baptism”.

IF baptism is exactly THAT, Christ saying “I forgive you”, we agree and say, “yes that is baptism” - IF THAT is what baptism really and truly IS, its sine quo non (or in the negative without which it is not), THEN Wayne (and baptist and Reformed) would agree with Luther/Lutheranism. To wit IF that is baptism THEN I must trust in baptism else I call Christ a liar. This is like the “if Christ is risen then that changes everything” hypothetical paradigm. Indeed IF THAT is baptism, THEN that changes everything.

Larry

Jonathan said...

This has been a really enlightening exchange here.

So it seems to me the reformed and bapticostal are so 'ate up' about how to know whether they are elect or not that they feel compelled to come up with these 'top ten list' of ways to 'know' they are elect.

Then, when they get questioned about it, they deny their lists have any real significance and instead claim that, when it all boils down, they really are secure in their election in the shed blood on the cross.

Hmm. Well then, honestly, what is the point of these exercises in list-making all about?

It seems to me, there's a lack of the "for you" in all that. As in, "How can I be sure the blood shed on the cross was really 'FOR me'?" since we agree that's what it all boils down to?

When all you are left with is "you" and your faith in your belief that Jesus' shed blood makes YOU elect, it is easy to see how that turns you back in on "you" and your urge to rustle up these "top ten lists."

My pastor drew the distinction well last Sunday by explaining that "a promise is better than a wish." What we have in the word AND sacraments is a promise of Christ that he really is FOR us that we can put our trust in, and that is much better (read--"more comforting") than a wish list.

'Extra Nos' is truly where it's at. When you GET that, wow, what a relief.

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne Dawg,
“And please answer my question about why every other work you do is the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore worthy of giving you assurance, but you believe your baptism is not the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore not worthy of giving you assurance?”

My baptism, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, was out of obedience to the Lord. "

That doesn't quite answer my question. I was asking then why baptism is not enough for you.
Do you see baptism as nothing but an act of obedience? Would you not describe all your good works, with which you are trying to passify your terrified conscience, as nothing more than acts of obedience to the Lord, albeit by the leading of the Holy Spirit?
Do you not believe that Jesus forgave your sins in baptism as Peter explicitly states happens in Acts 2:38-39, and gives you the Holy Spirit there as it also explicitly states in those same verses?
You are going to say you don't have a terrified conscience, don't waste your breath. Just answer the rest of the questions. The above list was written to help those with terrified consciences. At this point I think you might ought to have one. By supporting that list you are teaching falsely, and guilty of blasephemy, of which sins according to the list you are to be avoiding, and repenting of. By denying that baptism saves, that the forgiveness of sins is attached to baptism, and the Holy Spirit promised to it you are denying the word of God is the word of God. By not baptizing Children you are teaching them to do the same, and causing them to sin, of which Christ says it would be better that a millstone be tied around your neck and you be thrown into the sea. Harsh, huh?
You are not here dealing with trifling matters, take a long hard look at how you answer.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks for the Scripture references Bror. I would usse those same references.

But how do you deal with these from 1 John?



“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

What things?

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

“Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:8-10)

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14)

“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15)

John lays out 10 clear signs that one is indeed saved and born again.

In that 'list' he affirms fellowship, recognition of our sinful state, we are obedient to His Commandments, we don't love the world, we 'know' who Christ is, we look forward to His return, we don't practice sin, we love our own, we love hearing/reading the Word and we proclaim Christ.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

Baptism does not save anyone. Jesus said in Acts 1:5: “For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

You are saved by by grace through faith, not baptism.

Ephesians 1:8: “After ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

In I Cor. 15:1-8 Paul defines exactly what the gospel is and he never once mention baptism for salvation.

Jesus said repent and trust the gospel. No mention of baptism for salvation.

Faith alone in Christ alone for salvation.

I believe you all are sincere...and sincerly wrong.

David Cochrane said...

All of Pink's statements can be summed up like this:

How do I know that I am elect? I know that I know that I know that I know that I know..........

St Paul:

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But we cannot have that if Jesus did not die for every person as our reformed believe.

Bryan Bond said...

Using isolated verses from 1 John will not suffice as proof texts , especially when most of those verses are Statements of Fact...NOT....Statements of Conditionality. Plus, I John is a particularly difficult book to corral - like a spiral staircase which states a theme, then goes around and seems to state the opposite...and returns yet again. Very easy to take I John in isolation out of context. Also - what are the commandments that we are to keep? Love on Another. The One that Jesus told His disciples (those who were His already) to keep. Also a statement of fact for those who are His. I suppose, eschatologically, one could see it as a Statement of Conditionality, but this is not how those who are His are to take it. Ever. Having just come out of the very Puritanical PCA (11 years as a minister), A.W Pink is used and relied on often. Brothers in the Lutheran Church - you are NOT mis-representing Calvinism. The stuff from Pink that our brother Wayne Dawg posted is typical of the "extras" given and layed upon people as evidences that they are in the Kingdom. I ususally had to do the dirty work of putting these folks back together after they left the church completely traumatized and broken,

Bryan Bond said...

Using isolated verses from 1 John will not suffice as proof texts , especially when most of those verses are Statements of Fact...NOT....Statements of Conditionality. Plus, I John is a particularly difficult book to corral - like a spiral staircase which states a theme, then goes around and seems to state the opposite...and returns yet again. Very easy to take I John in isolation out of context. Also - what are the commandments that we are to keep? Love on Another. The One that Jesus told His disciples (those who were His already) to keep. Also a statement of fact for those who are His. I suppose, eschatologically, one could see it as a Statement of Conditionality, but this is not how those who are His are to take it. Ever. Having just come out of the very Puritanical PCA (11 years as a minister), A.W Pink is used and relied on often. Brothers in the Lutheran Church - you are NOT mis-representing Calvinism. The stuff from Pink that our brother Wayne Dawg posted is typical of the "extras" given and layed upon people as evidences that they are in the Kingdom. I ususally had to do the dirty work of putting these folks back together after they left the church completely traumatized and broken,

Bryan Bond said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bror Erickson said...

Going to let Bryan Bond's answer stand! Glad to have you with us. Now I check out for the weekend.

Larry said...

Part 1 of 2

Jesus said, “all authority in heaven and on earth is given to me…go and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit”

To say that this baptism does not save you is to call Christ a liar, and take the very name of God in vain. For in this baptism is the name of the Son, of which we find Jesus. Jesus name means “he will save his people from there sins” (SAVE), or “Yaweh saves” (SAVES) or also, “the only name under heaven by which we are saved” (SAVED). The Son’s name in this baptism among others is also “Hosannah” which means “save us now Lord” (SAVE). The Son’s name is also Emmanual “God is with us”, God us with us in this baptism to believe other wise is to call His name vain, a violation of the second commandment. To not believe in the name of God is to call his name vain. To not believe where the name of God is given there is salvation is to call his name vain. In this same baptism is the name of the Father, He who sent the Son and said, “this is My Son in Whom I’m well pleased listen to Him” (which includes this baptism passage). In this Baptism we find also the name of the Holy Spirit and wherever the name of God is there is God, thus to deny this baptism saves you and IS the very giving of the Holy Spirit is to deny, turn one’s nose up at and shut the door to the very Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.

Peter said, which is to say God the Holy Spirit in this case, “this baptism saves you” (SAVES). Repent and be baptized FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. (forgiveness = SAVES).

Paul said, which is to say God the Holy Spirit in this case, “don’t you know that in baptism you died with Christ and are risen with Him” (that’s SALVATION, of which we derive SAVES).

Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood (that just curls the sacramentarian toes doesn’t it) HAS eternal life”. (SAVED)

Jesus said “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood ABIDES in me and I in Him” (SAVED)

Jesus said, recorded three times, four if you count Paul, “Take and eat this is My body given for you” (SAVED)

Jesus said, recorded three times, four if you count Paul, “Take and drink this is My blood of the new covenant shed for the forgiveness of your sins” (SAVED).

Larry said...

Part 2 of 2

The Ethiopian eunuch was reading, “so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge [f] my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
To which the EE did NOT reply, “I don’t thing baptism saves therefore it is a lowly thing” but rather immediately responded see that it was Jesus baptizing, “He will sprinkle many nations…”, said, “what then prevents me from being baptized”. Was then promptly baptized and then went away dancing joyously. (SAVED)

He who denies salvation in baptism, denies the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Word and the Name of God and salvation itself and is no Christian whatsoever.

Larry

Larry said...

And a double Amen to Bryan having come from both calvinistic baptist and PCA. That's PRECISELY the way the theology works.

Funny when everyone else looses the Gospel they flee back to Luther with hat in hand, then when Luther offers the reason lay in the sacraments they say, "Now here now Luther that's crazy you did not reform enough".

Funny how "no real sacraments" eventually leads to "no real Gospel" every single time.

Funny how no Lutheran runs, even after the razing of Lutheran pietism occurs, to baptist or Cavlin to recover the Gospel but back to Luther.

Why is it everybody runs to Luther when Christ is gone?

Maybe they should take a look at the elephant in their confessional rooms, the sacraments.

If after every time I enter a room I hear, "what's that smell", I MIGHT want to consider its me and not the room.

Larry

Steve Martin said...

This is fun!

Thanks, all!

Larry said...

Pink, like many Calvinist, particularly Puritans, and calvinistic baptist like to use "nonsense" language (Bror points this out). Things like "make use of or take hold of all the Christian graces". That's a perfectly gnostic blast of wind. it's really no different than "the sound of one hand clapping" or Calvin's theology on his supper (cut the high flying enthused gnostic crap, what did you put in my mouth).

Much like the baptist gnosticism on baptism. I once was wrestling with myself Acts 2 and that passage on baptism in which Peter says, "...and the promise is to you and your children...". I said what about that. My baptist buddy gave the party line, "that means SPIRITUAL children". I replied, "But that's not in the text". He said, "You know you are right".

No Gospel in such. No wonder the adjectives in those other gospels tend to PILE UP. E.g. If you believe moves to if you TRULY believe then to if you REALLY TRULY believe...if you really really really truly truly realy truly truly realy truly truly realy realy deep deep deep down in your hear of hearts truly realy realy truly really really really really really really really really really truly truly truly truly truly really truly really truly really truly really truly really truly really truly really truly really truly really truly believe, then you might be saved.

This is the other gospel of baptist and Calvinist.

Larry

Wayne Dawg said...

“Jesus said, “all authority in heaven and on earth is given to me…go and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit”

To say that this baptism does not save you is to call Christ a liar, and take the very name of God in vain.”

You are mishandling the Word of God.

When we quote Scripture, let use all of the verse….

Matthew 28:19-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations first. To become a disciple one must be born again. Baptism follows conversion in obedience to the Lord.

“Jesus name means “he will save his people from there sins” (SAVE), or “Yaweh saves” (SAVES) or also, “the only name under heaven by which we are saved” (SAVED). The Son’s name in this baptism among others is also “Hosannah” which means “save us now Lord” (SAVE). The Son’s name is also Emmanual “God is with us”

Amen, I agree. But His name does not mean “Baptism saves”

Jesus was asked in John 6:28 - Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

Jesus said in John 6:29 - Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

No mention of baptism

Faith alone in Christ alone for salvation. “Repent and trust the gospel”

Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Through the blood of Christ…not baptism.

The Ethiopian was already saved before he was immersed in the water. The baptism did not save him; he publicly made known his union with Christ in the death, burial and resurrection through baptism.
“Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood (that just curls the sacramentarian toes doesn’t it) HAS eternal life”. (SAVED)”

Amen! No baptism there.

“Jesus said “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood ABIDES in me and I in Him” (SAVED)”

Amen! No baptism there.

“Jesus said, recorded three times, four if you count Paul, “Take and eat this is My body given for you” (SAVED)”

Amen! No baptism there.

“Jesus said, recorded three times, four if you count Paul, “Take and drink this is My blood of the new covenant shed for the forgiveness of your sins” (SAVED).”

Amen! No baptism there.

Wayne Dawg said...

“Peter said, which is to say God the Holy Spirit in this case, “this baptism saves you” (SAVES). Repent and be baptized FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. (forgiveness = SAVES).”

Repenting and trusting the gospel saves you. Baptism follows.
John MacArthur says – “Paul never made baptism any part of his gospel presentations. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul gives a concise summary of the gospel message he preached. There is no mention of baptism. In 1Corinthians 1:17, Paul states that "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel," thus clearly differentiating the gospel from baptism. That is difficult to understand if baptism is necessary for salvation. If baptism were part of the gospel itself, necessary for salvation, what good would it have done Paul to preach the gospel, but not baptize?
No one would have been saved.
Paul clearly understood baptism to be separate from the gospel, and hence in no way efficacious for salvation. Perhaps the most convincing refutation of the view that baptism is necessary for salvation are those who were saved apart from baptism. We have no record of the apostles' being baptized, yet Jesus pronounced them clean of their sins (John 15:3--note that the Word of God, not baptism, is what cleansed them). The penitent woman (Luke 7:37-50), the paralytic man (Matthew 9:2), and the publican (Luke 18:13-14) also experienced forgiveness of sins apart from baptism.
The Bible also gives us an example of people who were saved before being baptized. In Acts 10:44-48, Cornelius and those with him were converted through Peter's message. That they were saved before being baptized is evident from their reception of the Holy Spirit (v. 44) and the gifts of the Spirit (v. 46) before their baptism. Indeed, it is the fact that they had received the Holy Spirit (and hence were saved) that led Peter to baptize them (cf. v. 47).
Forgiveness is connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 24:47; John 3:18; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 5:26).”

I can’t imagine the millions of people who have been Pope-ishly declared “saved” because of being told they “must be” baptized for remission of sins and having never been born again to begin with like Jesus said they must be.

"He who denies salvation in baptism, denies the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Word and the Name of God and salvation itself and is no Christian whatsoever."

Talk about Rome.....please.

David Cochrane said...

Wayne,

Scripture interprets scripture it does not contradict. The selfsame Peter who heard Christ institute baptism as a means of disciple making also proclaimed it at Pentecost. In baptism we receive two gifts. The forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38-39.

And in his epistle states clearly that baptism saves through the resurrection of Jesus. We are not allowed, due to our misshapened logic, to discount those promises from our Lord. Baptism is a gift from God not our gift to him. Once that is believed then no problem exists.

As far as unbelievers having been baptized we have the same problem with preaching. Some hear sermons which are spot on and the Holy Spirit will create faith. Others will hear the same sermon and reject the gift. The sermon is not a means of grace in the former and not in the latter. Does this mean that faith does not come through hearing of God's word due to some not believing? Romans 10:17 God forbid.

J. K. Jones said...

Many reformed believe that Jesus died for every person in a sense. I am coming to see that there is some sense in which Christ died for every person, just not in the same way.

Christ’s death secures the power for only the elect to be saved, even though it can be said that Christ’s death in some sense pays the penalty for everyone’s sins. See John Piper’s teaching on this at www.desiringgod.org (search for TULIP).

Christ’s death can pay the penalty for the sins of everyone who repents and believes. There is nothing deficient about it. So the free offer of the gospel is a real offer. Whosoever will may come. Where then is the conflict you describe? Anyone who repents and has faith is saved (John 3:12, 16). This would have to be untrue for your central thesis to be correct.

There must be some form of self-examination to see if the faith one holds is real (2 Cor. 13:5-10; 1 John 2:4-17, 5:1-5). But we should not wallow in it (1 John 1:5-2:3, 3:19-24).

As far as assurance goes, anyone who has tried to repent and is genuinely concerned is among the regenerate. Only those with a new heart are concerned with the things of God. The unregenerate cannot even see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), much less worry about entering it.

The unrepentant know who they are; there is no doubt or conflict in their minds if they are honest with themselves. They just will not repent. They do not believe what Christ said about how to live their lives. If they did, their behavior would change.

JK

Bror Erickson said...

Wayne,
I don' know John MacArthur, but I would stop reading him. He makes lavish claims he can't possibly back up. "Paul never made baptism part of the gospel presentation"? Really? How does he know? 1 Corinthians 1 seems to suggest otherwise. So does Acts.
To say baptism doesn't save is t contradict scripture. To say it follows conversion is to add to scripture.
Be a bit more criticaL about what you say and read.

Jonathan said...

"As far as assurance goes, anyone who has tried to repent and is genuinely concerned is among the regenerate. Only those with a new heart are concerned with the things of God. The unregenerate cannot even see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), much less worry about entering it."


Well, then what's the purpose of the lists? To show me whether I've really repented enough? To show me if my heart has been regenerated?

I don't trust my heart. Jesus said the heart is full of all kinds of bad stuff--it's not to be trusted.

I prefer to drown the old Adam every day, remembering my baptism and the promise of Jesus to me about my sins being forgiven in my baptism.

Now that's something I can count on--a promise of Christ to and FOR me. Much better than wishing for clean heart, wondering whether I've really got it.

Bror Erickson said...

J.K.Jones,
"In some sense, Jesus die for the sins of the word"?!!!
Do all reformed feel free to qualify the word of God like that?!

As for your behavior bit at the end of you post. See I don't get it. I know many many moral Pagans. "Good people" some might call them. But they don't believe in God, or they don't believe in the right God. Most of my community falls into that category. When they convert there is no change in their behavior, except they go to church. Maybe stop going to "the Ward". What about them?

Larry said...

At some point we are just throwing pearls to swine. There’s a difference between an honest pious Christian stuck in the antichristic heterodox churches honestly seeking the truth of the Augsburg confession and the churches therein, I myself was in that situation and found many of the “lutheran” ideas and confessions odd to my ears, a strange new teaching per se. But I endeavored to understand for I starved for the Gospel and knew it didn’t exist in the baptist religion. Oh they say the words “jesus”, and “salvation” and “justification”, etc…but they just say them and say them no more than an atheist can utter them. If I say in one sentence, “I’ll give you a 100 dollars” but don’t really ever do it, I’m a liar and a hypocrite. This is the same with the false confessions of the false churches of heterodoxy. There’s a difference in such a pious suffering mind wondering “they have taken my Lord away” and “where they have put Him”, and the dragon tongues that merely wish to storm the walls of Christ’s church with their Gnostic heterodoxies and say “we are just like you”. Like Paul we are to flee from them and reject them entirely. Like Luther we do not give such the right hand of fellowship to such.

It becomes at length merely throwing pearls to the swine and they will as they do turn on you. For when you show them a friendly hand with a scrumptious feast of the Cross in it to have and feed their starving bodies, like vicious brute dogs and swine they attempt to snap your hand off to devour while spitting out of their mouths the very divine fare and manna you offered them.

Thus, at some point what Luther said is apropos to even our modern day situation (and can be extended to the first sacrament as well). We must recognize that…

“It is useful and good that arrogant, godless blasphemers be so cut off that they should not join in partaking of the holy sacrament, for one should not “throw to the dogs what is holy, nor pearls before swine” [Matt. 7:6]. Now the fanatics believe [according to their publicly-confessed faith] that nothing but bread and wine are present, hence it is surely so [in their churches]. They have as they believe, and so they eat nothing but bread and wine, and partake of the Lord’s body neither spiritually nor physically. It is very good and useful that our possession should not be scattered among the unworthy but kept holy and pure among the humble alone. (“That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics,”

Larry said...

Baptist versus Calvinist. Now that's an interesting wrestling point. Calvinist would say no baptist is a calvinist period, one cannot extract out infant baptism nor Calvin's own doctrine on the LS and still call one's self a Calvinist.

However, from Luther's vantage point, they are in fact the same. In fact Luther would lump them all together and did (even all the proto-groups) with the papist, Islam, pagans and the enthusiast formerly considered (anabaptist, baptist, reformed, etc...), in realilty all theologies of glory are one lump sum enthused religion.

Larry

Larry said...

“That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics,” is just as much as do these Word’s of the Holy Spirit of Christ, “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21) still stand firm against the fanatics. The Word of God endures forever and the word of the fanatics has already fallen and been judged, it just pretends to live.

Let them tell that to God, it is THEIR doctrine, "Your baptism you gave us, Christ, does not save".

Larry

Larry said...

The Reform do qualify the Word of God like that. In my move from Calvinistic baptist to full pledged reform a good baptist friend of mine and I use to discuss at length ‘how do you present the Gospel.’ This is where Calvinism is married at the hip to Arminianism and both ultimately are synergistic. They are like drunkards the only difference is Calvinism refuses to admit it. At length we wrestled and wrangled with ‘just how do you give the Gospel’ and ‘what exactly is that’. My buddy captured it best in this, “You know you just can’t seem to give Christ to them, there’s always this “I need to close the deal somehow” in it”. The deal closers are all the caveats so you can know, “this person converted/was reborn/got saved”. It’s more overt in baptist thought than reformed thought, however.

The “qualification” on the Gospel or “two senses” in which Christ died for people in Reformed thought, you will find, is this: Christ’s atonement was 1. EFFECTIVE for the elect and 2. Only SUFFICIENT for everyone else or alternatively the reprobate. That’s of course more spiritualistic jibber jabber. You see remove all the earthiness of Christ, incarnation, his flesh and blood in the sacraments, real salvation in the water – these very earthy flesh enfleshed sacraments and your stuck with this wispy misty ultimately untouchable Gnosticism that you can never “lay your hands on” or “put in your mouth” or have “poured onto your body”. So you get all this “if you really really truly believe”, effective for some (generically speaking) and sufficient for others (generically speaking). Gnosticism can be technically defined but the real tell tale sign of ANY Gnosticism is that “you can never grab it unto yourself” nature of it. It’s always talked about and jabbered about but never materialized in the real earthy fleshy world that God created and Christ incarnated into.

Problem is “I” and “You” are not just “generic human categories” but real individual particular persons. Thus, I must be in one of the generic categories, effective or sufficient and who in the hell wants to be in the sufficient category. Thus the tyranny of Calvin’s god, begins. How might I know I’m in the effective group. Answer: a good works list and a sin dissipating list. The only problem with that is, is that any damn fool can accomplish any of them. Even the rankest of pagans AND the sufficient crowd can falsely believe and think they really believe, self deceived.

And so the baptist, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan and Calvinist chase their works tails like a dog chasing his tail with great and tremendous fury.

J. K. Jones said...

Jonathan,

“Well, then what's the purpose of the lists?”

I don’t defend Pink. I think he goes to far. He’s good on theology proper, but he gets mixed up on this kind of thing.

What does baptism do for those who do not place their faith in Christ?


Bror Erickson,

“When they convert there is no change in their behavior, except they go to church. Maybe stop going to "the Ward". What about them?”

I don’t know what “the Ward” means.

Luther would argue that there must be a change in behavior if one is a Christian. That’s all I’m saying.

Those who have had no change in their lives as a result of their new found “faith” are unrepentant, and they know it.

JK

Jonathan said...

"What does baptism do for those who do not place their faith in Christ?"

Well, who has faith and what is faith? To answer your question, I suggest you check out Luther's Small Catechism on Holy Baptism, what it is/does.

Larry said...

Here again we are caught in the trap that two theologies use the same language but mean utterly different things. Change for Luther was not the same as “change” under Calvin nor “change” as Baptist understand it. This is why Luther makes the critical statement that many men will talk very lengthy and much of good works and faith and yet know neither one. Thus, it’s very easy for a Calvinist to read Calvin into Luther and everything finds itself confused. But we cannot get away from the sacraments. Here Sasse makes the crucial point basically saying the way one understands the sacraments (true or false) is the way one understands (actual) scripture (true or false).

E.g. Baptist and Calvinist would affirm ‘simul Justus et peccator” and nod their heads saying, “Yea, yea that’s what we mean”. But it is not. The baptist for example has a picture of this as more or less meaning salt and pepper mixed together. Not so, Luther makes the distinction thus, entirely sinner in reality, entirely just by declaration (and NOTHING more). The baptist as well as the Calvinist see conversion as more or less having a starting point then a progression, they read that INTO simul Justus et peccator. Luther on the other hand expresses it as a constant state of being (we NEVER leave baptism). Both would use these very same words: “Where”, “forgiveness”, “life”, “of”, “there”, “is”, “salvation”, “and”. But Luther would says and does say in particular to the sacrament of the altar, “Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation”. Calvin and baptist would say, “Where there is life and salvation, there is forgiveness of sin”. Same words yet two different theologies, two different religions, two separate spirits.

Also keep in mind that in Calvinism there is the "once you cross the line of 'conversion'", your there. That paradigm precludes the use of ANYTHING Luther said for its own theology.

So one has to be very careful when a Calvinist is quoting Luther in support for their opposing doctrine. The sacraments, to the chagrin of many, make all the difference in the world. They are not just “side issues” but essential issues that ultimately formulate THE Gospel or another gospel.

Forde, a Lutheran, writes, in his “Christian Life,” in Christian Dogmatics II;

“The assertion of “justification by faith” in the sixteenth-century Reformation can be understood only if it is clearly seen as a complete break with “justification by grace,” viewed according to the synthesis we have been describing, as a complete break with the attempt to view justification as a movement according to a given standard or law, either natural or revealed. For the reformers (meaning Lutherans – Larry), justification is “solely” a divine act. (p. 407)

We can best attack the problem by asking whether in Luther . . . it is possible to discover any distinctive ideas about sanctification or Christian growth. The simul , it is to be recalled, was posited precisely to counter the idea that justification is to be synthesized with ideas of progress according to law. The justifying act unmasks and exposes all our pretense about becoming virtuous persons, by the very fact that it is an unconditional divine imputation to be received only by faith. To be justified by God’s act means to become a sinner at the same time. The totality of justification unmasks the totality of being a sinner. Thus the simul iustus et peccator as total states would seem to militate against any talk of progress in sanctification.”

There are many utterances of Luther’s which reject all ideas of progress. Sanctification must simply be included in justification because the latter is a total state. Sanctification is simply to believe the divine imputation and with it the totus peccator ….
From this point of view the way of the sinner in sanctification, if it is a movement at all, is a movement from nothing to all, from that which one has and is in oneself to that which one has and is in Christ.

Larry said...

Good reference Jonathan.

Also "What does baptism do for those who do not place their faith in Christ?" suffers from a fatal false presupposition. That there is “baptism” over here and “Christ” over there. What that sentence really says, if you grasps Lutheran confession on this is (read it as a Lutheran), "What does Christ (baptism) do for those who do not place their faith in Christ?"

Larry said...

Again, the progress list of enthusiasm in whatever form it comes is always allowed to hide out by being left in the generic and general use, all the better if we can only “imply it” and keep its real application to “that guy over there” and not really press “myself” on the issue. “Give that poor suffering slob over there a generic general wispy ‘you must progress to know you are saved’ (implied by the law as guide), but I won’t press myself too hard on this lest I be found out”. And so when pressed to LIST their particulars that give them infallible proof that they themselves are elect/converted/saved/born again/baptized rightly (after conversion/faith)/have real and true faith; one usually gets a theological ‘punt’ or sometimes a reversion to a more or less Mormon answer, “the
Spirit talks to my heart (somehow)”. Again, Gnosticism always reveals itself in it no earthy, fleshless and ungraspable expressions.

If we were to press two or three Calvinist or baptist what their personal list of infallible proofs that they themselves, not that poor slob over there they press this upon but THEMSELVES, are saved we will either get as answers:

1. Crickets and frogs
2. A ghosty whisp event
3. or differing lists, highly subjective to the person and mostly moralities. (rarely will this answer come, usually numbers 1 and 2. And even if you get a concrete answer here as to the specific type you will NEVER get an answer to the “how much”.

Thus they really are still tied to “Rome Sweet Rome”.

Bror Erickson said...

J.K. Jones,
I live in Mormon Land, and refuse to call what ever it is they do "church". They have a ward house, that is what they call it too.
Perhaps that puts a perspective on it.
I think Larry has done a fine job of answering you in the rest of it. But seriously when you make a statement of Luther says, it may help if you went and found a quote where he says... Remember he considered babies to be Christian when they were baptized and I don't think he thought they were going to change their behavior and give mom's fewer dirty diapers to change. In reality, us adults don't really give any fewer dirty diapers to change either, when it comes to our Father who art in heaven.
For some there may be marked change in moral behavior, but not for all. That doesn't mean there isn't a change in the person though.

Bror Erickson said...

By the way I am out for the rest of the weekend. Carry on the conversation though, my phone gives me the updates, and I enjoy reading them when I have time. But I will be back on Monday.

Wayne Dawg said...

"At some point we are just throwing pearls to swine."

I agree totally!

I'm through throwing....

Bror Erickson said...

I for one, find honest conversation about these things to be healthy. If the conversation can remain honest and inspires some self-examination of one's position than it is not casting pearls before swine.

Bror Erickson said...

I for one, find honest conversation about these things to be healthy. If the conversation can remain honest and inspires some self-examination of one's position than it is not casting pearls before swine.

Larry said...

Wayne,

I like honest conversation too, but when it’s not honest it’s just throwing pearls away. And you are not being honest. Your using a standard Baptist trick, I see it, I’ve seen it a thousand times. It goes like this: Within the Baptist confession there is the confession of the competency of the soul to read and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. It’s ubiquitous to all Baptist confessions and all Baptist adhere and say “yes” to it. This is designed, supposedly, to keep men from adhering to the teachings of men. But then when one does do this and they find a Scripture counter to the Baptist “party line” (E.g. this IS My body/blood or this baptism saves you or the promise is to you and your children)., the teachings of men, the “brother Baptist” pulls the other one back into line with superstitious and Gnostic line like, “you are mishandling the Word of God” and then goes into HIS explanation of what that passage means. In other words, “don’t listen to other men like Luther who are against the Baptist party line, only read the scriptures, but if you find they, the scriptures don’t say what the Baptist partly line IS, then hearken and listen to me (a man) to get you back in line.”

And that leads to the point about throwing pearls to swine and your not being honest in the discussion. I’m not asking about YOUR Baptist doctrine, I already KNOW IT WELL and reject it. You were asking about Lutheran doctrine. You can’t pretend to be asking about Lutheran doctrine as a subterfuge for in reality giving your Baptist or reformed doctrine. You prove this when you said, “I agree totally! I'm through throwing....”

Because you are wasting your time, I’ve had them before and rejected them finally. I don’t have a question about “what do the Baptist believe”, I thoroughly know exactly what they believe, teach and confess. I thoroughly understand the Baptist doctrine, I mean thoroughly. I’ve read and studied more than 99% of the Baptist out there on the subject. Most Baptist TODAY don’t even adhere to their OWN confessed doctrine and I mean pastors not just the laymen. Thus, you are NOT going to “reveal something to me” that’s going to make me say, “OH, I never thought of that angle, I’ll go back to being a Baptist”.

If you really want to discuss this from a neutral analytical side, which it the ONLY way you’ll begin to even listen, you are going to have to give up your proselytizing for your religion and just sit and listen and ask questions honestly, an honest learner that is. And you are going to have to stay focus on an issue rather than chaotically spinning off into endless proof texts for your doctrine.

For example you need to focus on something simple and obvious like the words of Christ in the Lord’s Supper where He, being God, says, “This is…” and ask yourself, “Why can’t I take them for what they say, why do I think I need to correct them, why don’t I do like Joseph smith, if my doctrine is true and scratch out the word “is” and write in “represents”…if my doctrine is true and I BELIEVE that’s what Christ said and meant then I should be able to do that with bold confidence, if I cannot, why not”. You must ask yourself why do I feel compelled to change those Words which are IN FACT the NAKED WORDS of God with NO MAN’s commentary. The minute I must comment on them, it enters the dangerous realm of maybe “a man’s word” and then I go hunting and pecking for what I think is support text for this “man’s word”.

You must start there and be teachable, else it is just throwing pearls before swine because your not interested in them (that’s the point of the analogy, pigs are not interested in the pearls (this doctrine) but their bellies (their doctrine)).

Larry

Larry said...

EVERYBODIES giving away pearls. If I come at this from my old “outside of Christianity entirely” perspective, an atheist or agnostic, like in the former USSR that’s what I hear here. Everybody coming in and saying, “Pearls, pearls, pearls for sale, get your GENUINE pearls here.” So what must I do, not all are pearls that’s safe assumption one.

So I put on my Berean jewelers eye glass and look at them, inspect them to find out what is being called a pearl and is and what is being called a pearl and is not.

Pearls number one comes from Wayne’s World Pearl Shop. Pearls number two comes from Martin’s Shoppe. I look into Wayne’s World and find that their pearls have these qualities: “to be sure you are saved examine your works” and “our pearls explicitly don’t have forgiveness of sin given to you”.

The pearls in Martin’s Shoppe have these qualities: “you are forgiven your sins, let me pour that forgiveness on you so you’ll know, let me feed you this body and blood so you’ll know. And not only know but are given this forgiveness”.

So it first depends on your definition of pearls. If it is the things being called “pearls” in Wayne’s World, if that is what you are looking for as pearls, then of course you’ll buy them. If not then go to Martin’s Shoppe.

Here we see what Paul meant to those dying in their sins the Cross is the odor of death, but to those being saved the odor of life. To one it is the odor of carrion and eschewed, to those being saved the odor of eternal life. To those who do not want their sins forgiven actually baptism actually giving the forgiveness of sin, the body and the blood of the Lord really there actually forgiving sins, these sacraments are an odor of death to them. To those wanting their sins forgiven, ACTUALLY, their sins forgiven actually baptism actually giving the forgiveness of sin, the body and the blood of the Lord really there actually forgiving sins the odor of life.

So that one group calls the same thing a stink and the other group a fragrance. And vice versa, to the group that calls baptism as real forgiveness of sins, etc…the other doctrine on baptism and the body and blood of Christ (sacramentarian doctrines) is an odor of death, the same sacramentarian doctrine is to that group, then, to them an odor of life. Just as to Islam is Islam the odor and way of life.

But when the covers of deception are removed, the delusions of the devil’s words only one stands as the real odor of eternal life and the other as the real odor of eternal death.

To one the motions toward progress and improvement is in the final analysis when all the doctrine is boiled down, the odor of life (the stench of death to the opposition). To those whose final doctrine is the forgiveness of sin, actually given, without the support of progress or improvement, ever, is in the final analysis when all the doctrine is boiled down the odor of life (the stench of death to the opposition).

Dawn K said...

I do have to say that it is rather funny that John MacArthur was being quoted on this thread as an authority. He was one of the folks who caused Larry and I to lose sight of Christ more than most.

A big part of the problem here is that baptists read the Scriptures through their own particularly baptist lens and then say that their view is self-evident from the Scriptures. "I just believe what the Bible says," they say. Yet they completely ignore any sort of historical context. It's as though what the church taught for sixteen centuries is out the window. I don't see much humility in that approach. The early church certainly saw Baptism and the Lord's Supper as much more than what baptists see it as today - that's just a historical fact. I think we would do well to try to understand why that is instead of just saying "well, we understand the Bible so much better now."

I wouldn't go so far as to say that folks like Wayne are not Christians. Having read the Bible through a baptist lens all my life I understand how difficult it is to see things differently. It is really frustrating, though, when baptists assume that Lutherans do not really understand the Bible when they disagree with the baptist view.

Larry said...

Very nicely stated Dawn. I concur 110% with everything you stated.

For folks like us it was not Rick Warren or Olstean that covered up Christ completely but men like Piper and MacArthur. That’s why I say all the time the deception of covering up Christ and Him crucified FOR YOU is most often in the BEST the heterodoxy has to offer. While Rick Warren, Olstean, et. Allii fool many people (and keep in mind they themselves would NEVER consider themselves heretics, does a heretic look in the mirror and say, “I’m a heretic and proud of it”?” No!) at some doctrinal level they are easily pushed aside. I can’t take them seriously. But when false doctrine comes through men that otherwise work hard at exegesis, put the time in, are openly serious about doctrine, etc…then it begins to have weight as to being able to bind men’s consciences to the false heresy. Especially to the layman.

The issue, like it or not, always goes back to the sacraments. That is where the battle for the Gospel is lost or won every time. When Luther said “this sacrament is the Gospel”, the LS, he was being very literal. And to alter it is to alter the Gospel, point blank.

But one has to remember the Gospel is not “just the message” but the actual and real deliverance of the goods of the message.

It’s why Luther made the distinction he saw in the Scriptures so clearly between what Christ won and gained for us at/on the Cross at that date and time and the distribution of that which He won and gained for us in the ever present here and now via the means of grace (sacraments, absolution, etc…). And THAT, not Peter laying hands on to the next guy and so forth through the popes (which is similar to the baptist way of ordination, hand on head), is apostolic succession. Not succession of persons or even offices per se, but the pure apostolic doctrine. That’s why a doctrine originating with Hebrews passed on to Roman Jews, then to gentile Romans and many others, ends up in the hands of rough old German and then to some American centuries later.

Bror Erickson said...

As I have been thinking about this. I just can't get past the idea that people are looking everywhere for the certainty of their salvation, but the cross where God died and made our salvation certain. What more could you ask for? There is no certainty in me, in my heart or any other cesspool of sin. There will be no certainty in filthy rags that by all accounts should be flushed down the toilet. There is no certainty anywhere other than the Cross of Christ, and his promise to save me a poor wretched sinner, the same promise he makes in baptism, the same promise he makes as he feeds me his body given into death for me, and pours the blood of the lamb who takes away the sin of the world down my throat to mark the door posts of my soul. And it is just that simple.

Larry said...

There is a bit of double tongue in this. On one hand the baptist and reformed person insists on some form of the changed life to find that assurance. That cannot be disagreed of by them because that’s ALL they argue. Thus they say they find assurance in the “changes” and so forth post conversion. They caveat it with, BUT its all the Holy Spirit and not me so God gets the glory.

To quote directly,

These “works” that you think I rely on are simply the works of God via the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself.

I didn't elect myself and I can't produce anything good myself. I rely on what God did/does for me.

I do nothing.

Then you ask, the baptist especially, what then is baptism? The response is and I quote, “My baptism, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, was out of obedience to the Lord.

Here is the inherent contradiction within THAT systems thought: I can know I’m elect because “I can’t produce anything good myself but on what God did/does for me. These works are simply the works of God via the Holy Spirit MANIFESTING Himself (in me).” Keep in mind the Spirit is only IN the elect. But what is my baptism? Well it’s the work of the Holy Spirit (leading of the Holy Spirit…out of obedience to the Lord). Yet, THAT cannot lead to assurance as to election while the other works can. Both are supposedly by the Spirit, says the doctrine, yet one finds that one does not have assurance via one and does via the other.

To wit: If you are going to believe that one work X is work of God and another work Y is too, you cannot put more weight in one over the other as to assurance so that in one you can find assurance but in another you cannot. Or you cannot say one work, baptism, is easy to fake and ergo no assurance, but then foolishly say, but these other works are not fakable and ergo I can have assurance in them.

I.e. the baptist and reformed person looks out into the world of events (theology of glory/enthusiam having departed from the Word) and sees at least apparent false baptized Christians and says, “See it doesn’t work, can’t trust it, can’t know I’m elect by it”. But then both hypocritically and foolishly looks to its nebulous list of proof works concerning election and thus salvation, seeing clearly that the rankest of atheist can imitate them, and absurdly says, “but these works I can find assurance that I’m elect”.

Keep in mind I’m speaking via that systems doctrine and not from the Lutheran confessions.

Because the point is if you trust in baptism BECAUSE of whether men fall away or not, then you are trusting in baptism but in what you see men do and men are all liars. Rather we trust in baptism because it is the Word of God and God cannot lie even though all men be liars. This is the paraphrasing of Paul regarding the sacrament of the OT in Romans.

Larry said...

I think one way to best handle this issue is to stay on a simple line of thinking. In a way baptism for more or less life long baptist carries with it way too much entrenched thinking to be “heard” from the baptist side of the house. The baptist are use to arguing with reformed and vice versa, I was on both sides of that in the midst of that, and so they get into these “covenant” arguments and so forth that so permeate reformed thought. When they begin to first engage a Lutheran its almost like to people from alter universes getting together with no common language whatsoever. The baptist wants to squeeze every thought back into their paradigm not realizing that this argument is not like the baptist/reformed argument in which there is common ground and its just a matter of arranging the deck chairs correctly, rather this is an issue of two separate paradigms that are not just altogether different but in opposition to each other. I.e. you can’t squeeze Lutheran doctrine into Baptist doctrinal paradigms and “understand it” because you’ll always arrive back at the “baptist doctrine”. One has to realize that when we both say “black” or both say “white” we don’t mean the same thing at all, in fact we mean the opposite thing. When both say grace, simultaneous sinner/saint, faith, Cross, baptism, LS, good works, etc…we don’t mean the same thing, we don’t mean just a bit eschew things, but opposing things as utterly opposite as X and Not-X. And to use logic, “there is no middle ground”.

Once that in principle is understood then some doors can open.

The simplest and most overt is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. It’s very simple. The Word Christ actually speaks are very plain and uncomplicated. “This is My body…take eat…given for you” or “This cup is the new covenant in My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin, take drink, all of you”. Here we see an obvious thing, “how do you know you are saved”? I.e. assured, “I’ve drank the blood of Christ”, that’s what HE, being God, plainly said (for the forgiveness of sin). That’s how I know, He, not mere men, said it.

But in that simplicity of words one must ask ones self honestly, “Why is it that I must depart from them”? Usually here the rabbit trails begin and explanations as to how these words are taken metaphorically or symbolically begin. That’s because ears are not hearing the question asked. I did not ask “HOW” you think these words are different but “WHY” you feel compelled to leave them as they are. That’s a different question, WHY! E.g. If I hand you a book and say, “This is a book”, you don’t feel compelled to leave the meaning of those words for metaphor or symbolism. You respond, “yes but you are handing me a book”. That’s right. Now if I hand you a chicken leg and say “This is a book”, why might you depart from my words as not being literal and seek to find a metaphor, symbolic meaning in them? And then if I still insist it’s a book literally what do you think of me?

The same answers to the sacrament lay in a common apologetic nearly every Christian has heard or used to an unbeliever: “Either Jesus Christ was who he said he was or was a liar or was crazy”. Now why is it that unbelievers don’t believe Jesus is who He said He is and depart from His words on the issue.

The answer to THAT is the same answer concerning why sacarmentarians depart from the plain words of the Lord’s Supper. And once one sees this one begins to see one’s inherent interpretative problem with baptism as well.

Larry

Dawn K said...

Another point to consider is that St. Paul bases our sanctification/living of the Christian life ON our Baptism:

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin" (Romans 6:1-7).

Why are we no longer slaves to sin? Because we died and rose with Christ in our Baptism. In our Baptism we are objectively united with Christ. It's very enlightening to read 1 John in light of this fact, and in light of the fact that the Holy Spirit is promised in Baptism.

In any case, baptists and Reformed read 1 John and passages like it through the lens of "having true saving faith you can never lose." It's a completely different paradigm. So assurance is basically figuring out whether I have true saving faith, rather than daily being able to cling to the objective promise of Christ. Clinging to that promise is in and of itself faith, and it's a faith that doesn't look in on itself but outward to what Christ has done FOR ME.

Larry said...

“In any case, baptists and Reformed read 1 John and passages like it through the lens of "having true saving faith you can never lose." It's a completely different paradigm.”

That is so true! That’s the lens I always read those passages through. In fact it is so deeply entrained within the Baptist/reformed psyche that even to THIS DATE I have to actively regear my mind. It’s so easy to fall back into that paradigm’s trap.

And “So assurance is basically figuring out whether I have true saving faith”, is ultimately just another way of saying “I have faith in true saving faith” if I can find it, Christ merely becomes a “tag line” or “right answer to the test question” answer. Ironic that true saving faith, the seek for it via assurance, becomes the false christ.

This is why Luther rightly saw that in the Anabaptist to Baptize based upon faith is really shear idolatry, for even faith itself is a creature.

Larry

Larry said...

It’s ironic what Baptist and Reformed doctrine call “progression” and “sanctification” is in fact static and regression into the fallen existence, the things of this world. And what Luther called the lack of progression is in fact true progression and sanctification. It’s that paradigm that rubs against the wisdom of this world’s fallen religion. “To progress you must not progress” does not make sense to the wisdom of the theology of glory. It only makes sense in the theology of the Cross.

This is one of the reasons Luther points out in his opening philosophical thesis that one must be very careful of Aristotle’s way of thinking, it is very deadly and one must be thoroughly foolish in Christ and the Cross before attempting to address it. Those thesis of the HD are often forgotten but are critical to the entire flow of the disputation.